Flying River is a performance by Rios de Encontro, a youth-lead community project in Marabá City in the Brazilian Amazon, with choreographer Dan Baron Cohen. Presented just weeks before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project integrates four generations of the community, political advisers, public servants and professionals in the areas of education, health, culture and security.
AfroRoots Collective cleans fish and washes clothes on the bank of the River Tocantins in drought. They begin to rehearse for the kite festival performance in the afro-indigenous community of Cabelo Seco. A child steps out of a Dunun drum skin, claps her hands in delight and discovers the power of her imagination and of performance.
The child flies her kite and the wind abruptly dies. She finds a dead fish and shows it to the performers and their audience, but everyone is on their mobile phones. The festival performance begins and the child is seduced! She dances so well at the side, the performers invite her to join them! But the air starts to burn and one by one, all faint.
Wounded birds brawl over the dead toxic fish. The child wanders between delirious relatives and friends, all parched by thirst, refugees in their own street. She finds an old bottle and all offer their humanity for a drop of water. She invites them to play and shares water among them all. But when the adults discover it is imaginary, they pelt her with stones of hate.
In the ashen silence, the child shreds her kite. Her cries awaken ancestral eagles to cure and transform the performers and their audience into a flying river of hope.